A Moment to Remember our Heritage
November 12, 1993 in Denver Colorado, 2,800 spectators witnessed the birth of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. A brutal eight man fighting tournament featuring disciplines from street brawling to professional wrestling. No rounds and no time limits, the only rules were no biting, and no eye gouging.
It was brutal, and we loved it! What we loved even more than that, was the fact that a skinny guy from Brazil wearing a white gi won the tournament with little striking, using a form of submission fighting, not well known to the rest of the world.
Royce Gracie won the UFC 1, UFC 2, and UFC 4 tournaments against fighters bigger, stronger, and faster than him and fought to a draw in the championship round of UFC 5 against Ken Shamrock. Gracie holds the UFC record of 11 fights won by submission, which put Brazilian jiu jitsu on the map, and put Gracie in the UFC Hall of Fame.
1996 was a big year for the Ultimate Fighting Championship. John McCain campaigns against the UFC, new rules are established, Senator McCain pulls the UFC from cable, Bruce Buffer debuts as the UFC ring announcer, the tournament format goes away and makes a return, and Hall of Famer Mark Coleman wins his second tournament.
1997 was even bigger. Fights are divided into two classes, over and under 200 pounds. Vitor Belfort, Randy Couture, and Tito Ortiz all make their UFC fighting career. Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg make their announcing debuts, rules change again and padded gloves are required for the first time, and Mark Coleman defeats Dan Severn becoming the first ever, UFC heavyweight champion, and the Tapout brand is introduced to the world!
In 1998 King of the Cage is founded. In 2001 Dana White becomes UFC president, the WEC debuts, and MMA becomes a well known professional sport. The US Army adopts the Gracie Jiu Jitsu logo and uses Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in it’s hand to hand combative training.
The UFC Hall of Fame opened in 2003 with Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock being the first inductees.
In 2005 tv reality series The Ultimate Fighter debuts and Forest Griffin becomes the first ever Ultimate Fighter, changing the face of MMA forever. Soon after, Strikeforce is formed as well as smaller local fighting organizations become popular nationwide. The UFC goes mainstream, eventually buying out Pride and WEC making MMA bigger than ever.
Six years later, I am sitting in my living room in Green Bay, Wisconsin watching the Milwaukee Bucks play the Toronto Raptors and writing an article about the evolution of MMA for one of the biggest MMA dedicated websites in the world. How can you not love a sport spotlighting one athlete against another athlete with the utmost respect for the man he just went to war with in the middle of an eight sided cage in front of the whole world.
What’s next? Who knows where it goes from here. All I really know is that when the super fight between Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva takes place, it should be the biggest money making sports even in the history of the world! By the way, GSP will win that fight.